St. Louis Vying to Host 2012 Democratic Convention
Today, May 21, is the deadline for St. Louis’s bid to host the Democratic National Convention in 2012. Success would mean an estimated $266 million for the city, as 50,000 visitors would converge here during the week of September 3, 2012.
St. Louis has hosted national party conventions five times. The 1876 Democratic Convention in St. Louis was the first west of the Mississippi. Samuel Tilden picked up the nomination, which was celebrated by fireworks from the top of the Old Courthouse. The Democrats came back in 1888 to nominate incumbent Grover Cleveland. In 1896, St. Louis hosted its only Republican National Convention, which nominated William McKinley. It was held less than a month after the 1896 tornado that ripped through south St. Louis, causing 200 deaths and immense damage. The city worked around the clock to clean up in time for the big gathering.
The 1904 Democratic Convention was held while the St. Louis World’s Fair was running, in the Exposition and Music Hall, located where the St. Louis Public Library now is. Alton Parker was nominated but later lost to Teddy Roosevelt. The last convention occurred here in 1916 when Woodrow Wilson accepted the Democratic nomination at the St. Louis Coliseum. That event was marked by women’s suffrage movements. St. Louis women created a “Golden Lane,” a “walkless, talkless” parade in which ladies simply lined the route that carried the politicians from their hotel to the Coliseum. Thousands of women carrying yellow parasols and wearing yellow sashes stared down the candidates along Locust Street between 12th and 23rd streets. Suffragists also performed a tableau on the steps of the old Art Museum on Locust. The Spirit of Liberty stood at the head, with contented women in white representing states in which women had full suffrage. Women in gray symbolized states with only partial suffrage, and women in black mourning represented states with no vote for women.
We’ll keep our fingers crossed that St. Louis wins the bid to host again—94 years is a long dry spell!
—Lauren Mitchell, Senior Editor